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New bill could compromise truck safety

California residents may have heard about a hearing on February 4 regarding a Senate bill, the DRIVE-Safe Act, which would permit those below the age of 21 to obtain an intrastate commercial motor vehicle license. The bill, introduced by two senators in February 2019, proposes an apprenticeship program requiring applicants to complete 400 hours, part of which involves 240 hours of driving a commercial motor vehicle in the presence of another driver who must be at least 21.

During the hearing, the president and CEO of the American Trucking Association said that the bill, called the Developing Responsible Individuals for Vibrant Economy Act, would increase intrastate truck traveling safety. Although there are forty-nine states where 18-year-old drivers are allowed to obtain an intrastate travel CDL, there were some people present who opposed the bill, including representatives for two groups: the Truck Safety Coalition and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The representatives contended that the idea that there is a shortage of truck drivers is a myth, and that lowering the age requirement for CDL intrastate traveling will lower safety, since accident rates of drivers 18 to 20 years old are considerably higher, according to reports. One of the representatives said that accident data should be analyzed before the bill is passed. A Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance representative, who was also present at the hearing, said he has written testimony showing the failures of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulatory activity, and that money should be spent improving infrastructure instead.

Victims of truck crashes may suffer serious, life-altering injuries, such as a spinal or traumatic brain injury, a loss of a limb or broken bones. They may require surgery and ongoing physical therapy or treatment. A personal injury lawyer could review surveillance footage of the crash scene, speak to anyone who witnessed the accident or review the official police accident report that may pinpoint the party responsible for the accident.

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